Savory Watermelon Basil Salad

Savory Watetmelon Basil SaladRecipes in this Post

I love when spring comes and all the fruits and vegetables you missed over the winter come into season. I especially miss watermelon. There are all sorts of watermelon flavored things, but they are just not the same, and who knows what’s really in them.

Last year, I found a great recipe from Jeff Potter’s book, Cooking for Geeks, for a watermelon and feta cheese salad. It was an experiment in sweet salty that I made one of the times I was Guest Chef at Ascencia in Glendale.

Spane had gotten a good report card and had requested Jambalaya for dinner. It’s spicy food, and with Global Warming Climate Change giving us warm nights already, we needed something to cool down our selves and our palates. I was reminded of the watermelon salad I made last year, and it was time to make another.

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Bathroom Organization

BathroomBathroom organization always seems to be a challenge. Usually, there isn’t much storage, so you are left with thinking of creative ways of storing all the things that have their home in the bathroom. In an apartment, you usually have a medicine cabinet above the sink, and some kind of storage under the sink. Often, there isn’t room to put much else. An over the toilet rack system is popular, but occasionally there isn’t room for one of those either. Things seem to get lost in the bathroom, even when you find a place for them to live, they still get lost, especially small things.

Under the Sink

The area under the sink always seems to get disorganized and since it’s dark and low on the ground, you never seem to want to deal with it, so it gets worse. My neighbor gave me a large dish rack that sat around waiting for an assignment. I knew there was something that dish rack was good for, and I was right. The containers for the cutlery work perfectly for holding my blow drier and large hair brush. The rack part is perfect for holding all the other stuff, bottles, rollers, etc.
Under the Sink

Small Things Get Lost

Having trouble finding the tweezers, or the nail clipper? No problem. I love magnets. You can stick them to the door of the medicine cabinet and put tweezers, nail clippers, or other small metal things on them. Now your small metal objects are easy to find, easy to put away, and take up virtually no room.
Medicine Cabinet

For Your Health

You might have noticed some of the things we have in our medicine cabinet, and think some of that might belong in the kitchen. Well, I am a great believer in natural and holistic healing. We keep olive oil in the bathroom to use on our skin.

  • Olive oil has all kinds of benefits for your skin, and it’s non-toxic. Unlike some other lotions, if you eat some, that’s good for you, too.
  • Eucalyptus oil is a wonderful thing to have in your house. Not only does it have a wonderful, clean scent, it’s also good for colds and aches and pains. Bugs really don’t like it – so a few drops in cabinets, on window sills and door jams will keep small creatures outside where they’re supposed to be.
  • Vapor rub – Not Vicks! Look in your pharmacy for an all natural vapor rub that does not use petroleum jelly. The one we have uses sunflower oil that is not GMO.
  • Almond Extract – I don’t keep it in the bathroom because I use it for cooking more often. If you have an acid stomach, look no further than almond extract. Just a small drop on your tongue will neutralize the acid in your stomach, almost immediately. One bottle of almond extract will last you at least a few months, so it’s much less expensive than over-the-counter anti-acid drugs, and does a better, faster job.

Gambas Al Ajillo – Barbecued Chili Garlic Shrimp

Recipes in this PostGambas Al Ajillo - Barbecued Chili Garlic Shrimp

I will admit I have been remiss at not sharing this recipe earlier. As I was going through photos that my friend sent me from Memorial Day, I happened upon this one, and forgot that I had never shared this with any of you. This dish is so simple, great as an appetizer, or you could have it with rice and something green as a main dish. I actually made this on my Weber, but you could also make it on the stove top.

I subscribe to Saveur Magazine‘s digital edition, and was thrilled to find this recipe in their June/July edition. I adapted it to the ingredients I had available, and it was fantastic.

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Thousand Island Dressing with Balsamic Toasts

Recipes in this PostThousand Island Dressing with Balsamic Toasts

Why would anyone want to write about Thousand Island Dressing? It’s yucky! It’s that reddish stuff that sits on the salad bar and congeals because no one wants it, and rightly so. It’s the “secret” sauce on the Big Mac, and has become so common that you probably don’t even notice it on your sandwich anymore. That’s a pity, because this is a grand dame of salad dressings with an interesting and honorable history.

One of the Thousand Islands only supports one tree and two bushesThousand Island Dressing is named for the archipelago of 1,864 islands that straddles the Canada-U.S. border in the Saint Lawrence River. Some of the islands are very small indeed. The one pictured above supports a single tree and two bushes. The dressing was popularized by May Irwin, a Canadian vaudeville star in the 1890’s. She had a home in Grindstone Island, one of the Thousand Islands. She said that the dressing reminded her of the Thousand Islands, and enjoyed the dressing so much that she requested the recipe from Sophia LaLonde, a fishing guide’s wife who frequently made the dressing for her husband. Miss Irwin then gave the recipe to George Boldt, the proprietor of the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, who instructed his the hotel’s maître d’hôtel, Oscar Tschirky, to put the dressing on the menu. In 1950 the dressing became a standard, and started its decline into the gloppy mess we have today.

One of the things we do at The Good Plate is to reconstruct packaged foods, so they taste better, and don’t have the preservatives common in packaged foods. I knew that venerable Thousand Island Dressing deserved a better place, and making it from scratch would make it one of my favorites, especially for sea food salads.

I made a crab salad for the dressing, and some Balsamic Toasts to go with them. This was in the midst of Spane and his friend making Play Dough on the stove. There are little bits of homemade Play Dough all over the place. Time to clean!

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Antipasto with Original Brown Derby Salad Dressing

Recipes in this PostAntipasto with Original Brown Derby Salad Dressing

Sometimes it’s a terrible thing to get old enough to remember wonderful restaurants that have closed down, notably The Brown Derby in Hollywood and Little Joe’s in Downtown Los Angeles.

The Brown Derby

When I was a little girl, I was lucky enough to have my mother take me to the Brown Derby in Hollywood. My mother had Cobb Salad, I had curried chicken. We each had a taste of the other’s dinner, and I loved the presentation and flavor of the Cobb Salad. Later in life, I was disappointed to find Cobb Salad made with huge ingredient pieces, it’s a chopped salad, for goodness sake, so all the pieces should be small.

There is a plethora of recipes for the original Brown Derby salad dressing. Even today, just looking so see what others put in their dressing, I came across at least 3 that were completely different. You may ask yourself, how do I know that The Good Plate’s recipe is the right one? Well, this recipe comes directly from The Brown Derby Cookbook published in 1949. The recipe for the famous Grapefruit Cake is also in that book, although my recipe differs in the icing and decoration.

Little Joe’s

When I was in college dating, my boyfriend and I got lost in Downtown Los Angeles. We were hungry, and stopped for lunch at Little Joe’s near China Town. I had an antipasto salad, and it was wonderful. I went back many times to Little Joe’s and especially enjoyed that salad, and their Spaghetti Bolognese. I will be writing about that sauce at another time, when it gets cool enough.

Composed Salad

I love composed salads. They look wonderful, and are large enough to be a stand alone meal. I bought some Mortadella, provolone and salami to make sandwiches for our picnic, and have left overs. I also have some nice lettuce, a giant tomato, avocado, peperoncini, Kalamata olives, and Persian cucumbers. So I am going to take from the two restaurants I loved the most and make something new. Enjoy!

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Tri-Color Lemon Basil Tomato Bread

Recipes in this PostFinished Bread

I used to make bread every week when I was Chef Farion‘s roommate, simply because he liked to have bread with his meal. I’m not that much of a bread person, seeing that at the time of this writing, I had to make a new category for bread. Well, today that is going to change.

My wonderful neighbor gave me some Lemon Basil this morning, I looked at it and said to myself, “Yes, you are going to put this in bread!” Then I thought that tomato goes so well with basil, and I have tube of tomato paste in the refrigerator. I am going to make three doughs, one with basil, one with tomato paste, and one with roasted garlic. Then I am going to braid them together, sprinkle sesame seeds on top, and throw it in the oven. I think it will be good. We will see!

I like making bread for a few reasons:

  1. I know what’s going into it.
  2. Kneading is a good way to relieve stress. Take out your aggression on the dough!
  3. The wonderful smell of bread baking is second to none.
  4. Finished bread gives you the feeling of a job well done.
    Spane holding dough

    Spane examining “Caesar” the tomato paste dough ball

  5. Bread is a great science project for kids. Kids can learn about yeast, and how the yeast is alive and how it makes the bread. If you are lucky, like I was, your child may volunteer to do some of the kneading for you. Spane was so happy to do it that he even named the tomato dough, “Caesar”.
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